Judicial Panel Grants Defense Motion, Unopposed by Most Class Action Plaintiffs, for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Centralizes Class Actions in Western District of Washington
Seven (7) class action lawsuits – five in Washington and two in New York – were filed against defendants Washington Mutual alleging “misrepresentations or omissions concerning WaMu’s financial condition with respect to its subprime home loan portfolio.” In re Washington Mutual, Inc., Securities, Derivative & “ERISA” Litig., 536 F.Supp.2d 1377, 1377-78 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2008). Another dozen potentially related class action lawsuits also were filed, mostly in the Western District of Washington, id., at 1377 n.1. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the litigation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Western District of Washington; no plaintiff in any of the class actions opposed the motion, but the plaintiffs in the New York class actions argued for transfer to the Southern District of New York. Id., at 1377-78. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, explaining that the actions share “common questions of fact” and that centralization will “serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” Id., at 1378. The Judicial Panel also agreed that the Western District of Washington was the appropriate transferee court “because (1) most of the actions are already pending in that district, and (2) WaMu is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and relevant documents and witnesses will likely be located there.” Id., at 1378.